on February 16, 2004
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It was very well written, and was absolutely amazing the knowledge Verne had to have to be able to write something like this. All the men in that book do all these amazing things and seem to know everything about everything, which might make them seem to be living encyclopedias, but when you think about it, Jules Verne, had to have a ton of knowledge about what he was writing to be able to give so much detail about all the things they did. What was also cool about this book is that in most "surviving on an island" stories (e.g. Swiss family Robinson, and Robinson Crusoe) they have a whole ship to pull supplies from and build with, so when you read those books, you think "well, if I had an entire ship to work with, I could survive too". In "The Mysterious Island", they have nothing but a notebook, pen, and the collar from there dog. (later they do find the material from the balloon, but that was only after they had already made felt clothing. They basicly bring the island to civilization, with telegraph wires, and almost everything you could think of, in about 2 years. This is an inspiring book, and is hard to put down. If I could have one book while being on a deserted island, this would be the one to have!
on April 23, 2002
Jules Verne is a literary monument, his books are still read and popular a century after his death, and it is not too difficult to predict that this state of affairs will prevail as long as books are read and civilization does not cut its roots off. Nowadays, whenever one hears that one book or another is labeled as science fiction, images immediately come to mind - space stations, aliens, whatever. More than one and a half a century ago, however, when the Western world experienced industrialization at an exponential rate, and when literature peacefully embraced a new form of expression, the novel - science entered the literary world, and widened its scope, to immediately possess the minds of creative individuals. It is a fact that come the second half of the XIX century, the fast pace of scientific discovery influenced writers, but what is even more important, is that the visionary concepts embedded in the science fiction literature of the time in turn influenced the men of science.
Verne initially embraced the idea of technological progress, and ventured into lands thus unknown with a long series of modern novels, which were both educational, and conceptually adventurous, not to mention the fact that the pure thrill of adventure emanating from his books arrested the hearts of his contemporaries, and generations to come. Later in his life, Verne again prophesied the future, having observed that the enormous technological leap can not only benefit the society, but also hamper the fast-growing civilization, causing dangers of utmost importance to be reckoned with. Accordingly, his novels of late became grim, destructive, and dangerous from the point of view of progress and its public relations, as we would say today. Despite the fact that he was the most popular novelist of his time on the Continent, he did experience problems with censorship, which was his constant source of frustration. Even his most revered literary achievement, "20.000 Leagues Under the Sea", was denied publication unless he removed the political context. Astonishingly, even a hundred years later the original text was not restored. Only in recent decades we had the opportunity to read his masterpieces of adventure as they were originally written.
"The Mysterious Island" was first translated into English still in the XIX century, and until last year, that was the only translation available. The morose fact is that the translation in question deviated substantially from the original. In this was the Anglo-Saxon readers were at a slight disadvantage compared to readers from the European Continent, where translations were faithful, and who could also read Verne in the unhampered original. Anno Domini 2001, as irony would have it, two new English translations appeared in print, both of which claim to restore the authoritative text of Jules Verne. What a treat! If you spent many an hour in your youth reading "The Mysterious Island", I heartily recommend this new, updated translation. If you have not had an opportunity to discover the hilarious world of adventure by Monsieur Verne, it's high time you started.
Depending on the edition, "The Mysterious Island" is published in several volumes, or in one thick hardbound volume. It might be interesting to note for the newcomer, though, that this novel is a part of interconnected set of masterpieces of adventure, which may be read independently with no harm on the part of the reader, but the best experience is to be achieved if the novels are read in the order Verne intended, that is, "20.000 Leagues Under the Sea" as a first entry, then "The Mysterious Island", and finally "The Children of Captain Grant".
"The Mysterious Island" would be a classic robinsonade, if not for its scientific bent of positivism, a trend strongly present in most works of fiction by Jules Verne. Several individuals are cast away on a lone island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Of course, they do not let themselves fall into despair, but instead they start building the society anew. Although full of technical elements, "The Mysterious Island" is primarily an exotic mystery, where the unprecedented flavor of adventure overwhelms the reader for days to come. I heartily recommend this novel to all young people of both sexes, the sooner they discover Jules Verne, the better, for they will never forget that experience, nor will they ever part with the exquisite fiction of Jules Verne.